• Harry Fecitt

THE EXCELLENT SCOUTING SKILLS OF PRIVATE W.H.N. WEBBER DCM, EAST AFRICAN MOUNTED RIFLES

Updated: Feb 2


The hills above Namanga

After its first major action at Longido (see article The Fighting at Longido on 3rd November 1914) the East African Mounted Rifles (EAMR) spent a lot of time in the Bissel to Namanga area of British East Africa (now Kenya). The duties were to patrol the border with German East Africa (now Tanzania), to keep under observation any German activity around Longido Mountain, and to fight off any enemy thrust that might come from the south towards Kajiado. Other units were always in the area in support of the EAMR such as artillery and King’s African Rifles and Indian infantry detachments.


Sketch map of the Namanga area


Occasionally a stiff fight developed with the Germans, but most of the time was spent on reconnaissance patrols. One unfortunate incident occurred during early 1915 when three unarmed Germans in nondescript clothing approached the one Trooper guarding the grazing horses and mules of ‘B’ and ‘E’ Squadrons, captured the Trooper, mounted three of the animals and drove the remainder across the border along with the Trooper tied to his mount.


East African Mounted Rifles transport crossing the Namanga River


One man in the EAMR who proved to be excellent at scouting was No. 259 Private William Henry Nelson Webber. He obviously was happy to work alone – which demands great reserves of mental strength and courage – because he was awarded an Imperial Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) with the citation:


For conspicuous gallantry. He made a valuable reconnaissance of the enemy's position, remaining out alone for 60 hours in close touch, the enemy observing his movements, until the attacking troops arrived. He then rendered a valuable report.


The East African Mounted Rifles Camp at Kedongai


William was promoted to Corporal and then he was selected to be an officer in the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd King’s African Rifles (KAR). This was a KAR regiment employing Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesian Askari that trained its men near Nairobi, the men having been sent up the Indian Ocean coast by boat from Nyasaland. The Battalion was then deployed from British East Africa southwards into German East Africa during the Spring of 1916


The Kedongai River

In that battalion William was promoted to Captain and awarded a Military Cross for gallantry and bravery on the battlefield.


HONGERA WILLIAM WEBBER MC DCM!

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